The Wrong Polls

Uh… guys… that’s not how we elect a president.

I keep watching the national cable networks talk about the upcoming election and touting polls. It’s very close. Just a few points separate the candidates.

Uh… guys… that’s not how we elect a president.

You don’t need a majority of the voters to become president. You need a majority of electoral votes. Though that race is reasonably close, it’s not as close as the simple horse race numbers. is a typical site showing current Electoral College sentiment. In this race Obama-Biden is much farther ahead of McCain-Palin. is another site breaking it out this way. also predicts Obama-Biden and breaks it out with more stats than even I want to see (and I love stats). They claim there’s a 78.5% chance Democrats will prevail versus 21.5% for the Republicans. That’s a little less than 4:1 odds, which is very strong. It’s stronger still when you consider is only calling for Obama-Biden to receive 50.6% of the popular vote!

Obviously things can change. A candidate can make a major faux pas or inject a wild card (like Sara Palin’s nomination for VP) to shake things up. Right now it’s Obama-Biden’s to lose.

I just wonder why the national media chooses to dwell on meaningless aggregate popular vote projections? They mention the Electoral College, but as an afterthought not as their main point.

Does it just make for a more interesting story when it’s more of a horse race? Do they think Electoral College numbers are too complex for mere mortals to comprehend? We’ll probably never know.

Something Else From Me

It’s the reason we have the two piece (bicameral) legislative government we have in the United States and how the Electoral College gets its makeup.

We have a blog at work. From time-to-time I write there as well.

I just posted an entry about one of my favorite topics, The Connecticut Compromise. It’s the reason we have the two piece (bicameral) legislative government we have in the United States and how the Electoral College gets its makeup.

It’s probably more important a story than it is a compelling read. Oh well.

Break In At Obama’s Place

Drudge has it on his front page, though pretty far down the left side. The AP wrote it up nicely. A bit of trouble Friday night at Obama Headquarters in Iowa.

(AP) DAVENPORT, Iowa The Davenport, Iowa, campaign headquarters for presidential candidate Barack Obama was burglarized Friday evening.

Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor says two laptop computers and some campaign literature were taken. A campaign worker discovered the burglary this morning, and a report was filed with Davenport police.

Vietor says that it doesn’t appear that it was anything sensitive or irreplaceable was taken.

Hmmm…. where have I heard this before? Here’s the opening ‘graph’ of a story from the New York Times, June 17, 1972.

WASHINGTON, June 17 — Five men, said to have been carrying cameras, electronic surveillance equipment and burglary tools, were arrested shortly after 2 A.M. today after a floor-by-floor search that led to the executive quarters of the National Democratic Committee here.

Here’s a copy of the actual story that ran on page 30 in the Times and the text of the story that was on the front page of the Washington Post. Remember, we knew nothing else except there was a burglary in Larry O’Brien’s office at the Watergate (The image of the front page on the left is from two days later, June 19, 1972).

I doubt last night’s burglary was anything more than a burglary. The stolen laptops were probably the target.

On the other hand, Watergate also seemed like a meaningless burglary. Nixon was way ahead at the polls. He would end up winning the presidential election with 60% of the popular vote and nearly 97% of the Electoral College.

Why would CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President) even care what O’Brien did or did not know?

Just for a second, let’s make believe there was something politically evil going on Friday night in Iowa. Are there still Woodwards and Bernsteins in journalism? Are there Ben Bradlees and Katherine Grahams who would allow reporters to spend days and days pursuing leads which probably weren’t going to pan out? Few thought Watergate would be anything more than the 2-bit burglary it was.

I’m afraid I know the answer.

Corporate journalism, where publishers (and TV managers) answer to stockholders, not individual owners and where the cost of debt service has entered into the daily decision making process, has changed journalism in profound ways.

If 1972 happened in 2007, how much would we know?